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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 6, 2012 4:15pm-5:00pm EDT

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so he had a new job. reuw wife, she was reunited with his children his children and he bought this property, a wood frame modest house at 18 street in northwest washington. he worked in the pension office for many years and in 1861 there was a new co-worker named john brooks russell. if you read a colored man's reminiscences of james madison and the entire memoir is included as an appendix in my book you will see that it starts with a preface. and intelligent colored man who works in the department of the interior. he was an eye witness to important history and i thought his recollections worth writing down in almost his own words.
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paul jennings was himself litter and learned to read and write as a slave. i discovered j.d. are was john brooks russell. he was the one who submitted to a history magazine in 1863 and two years later it was published as a slim volume by the same name with jennings's by line on the title page. there were very few copies ever printed. i am thankful that it was not altogether lost to history. it has been quoted by historians over the years especially the passages about the war of 1812 and we are celebrating the 200th
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anniversary of that war today. jennings had an exciting wartime adventures as he came of age and played a major role in helping madison rescue the enormous iconic stewart likeness of george washington just before the british burned the white house. this was in 1814. a hot august day. madison had gone to the front. the only commander-in-chief to join troops at the front. it was ten miles from washington and when those who stayed behind in the white house, paul jennings and a couple other members of the domestic staff, madison had a writer ride as hard as he could to the white house and informed the denison's to clear out, clear out. general armstrong has ordered a retreat and jennings wrote in
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his memoir that altman was chaos. dolley madison that the white house treasures and jumped into her carriage but before she dashed off she turned to jennings and the other remaining behind for the moment and said save that portraits of george washington. do not allow the british to defile this important image of the father of our country. dolley madison deserves the credit for the impulse but paul jennings and two of his co-workers are actually the ones who deserve the credit for rescuing the portrait himself. rather miraculously it was carried off as a giant stretch of can this. you may have heard it was cut out with a knife and rolled up. not true. present-day conservationists prove that it was never cut out,
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never rolled up. with great effort this frame was broken and the large picture carried away to safety to a barn in maryland. jennings's legacy includes the authorship of the first white house memoir and a major role in rescuing of a portrait of george washington. but there are other important elements to his legacy as well. first of all, there is a living legacy, his descendantss today and i have a feeling paul jennings would be particularly proud of that legacy. these are, many of them, washingtonians but they lived in all four corners of the country but almost without exception
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they are people of high achievement who like their ancestors, value family, education, activism. paul jennings had a granddaughter, his namesake named pauline. she was the daughter of a slave. she married the son of a slave and yet he got an m.d. from howard university with a practicing physician in georgetown where they own a home which is a pretty remarkable opportunity given only one generation out of slavery. a very remarkable achievement. their son was an m.d. as well and he is one of my favorite jennings descendants. i like to think that he inherited his ancestor's genes
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for race activism. as an african-american doctor, he could not go to just any medical school. the about practice in just any hospital. black doctors were not even allowed to join the a am a. he was very active in agitating against these restrictions but he didn't limit his activism to greater opportunities for members of his profession. he spearheaded a petition drive to keep a recreational area in georgetown from becoming segregated and he published bold editorials on race in the washington post and other newspapers. that is the living legacy. i am also fascinated by the legacy of place in washington.
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it was 1809 when paul jennings first came to washington to be part of the white house staff. he found washington than a dreary place. pennsylvania ave wasn't even paved but i think soon enough suffering from homesickness he went on to realize that he was at the start of a great adventure and would be an important eyewitness to history. he witnessed a lot of history in washington. he died he in 1874 after marion for a third time. mrs. alexander did know about that when i told her she said she wasn't surprised that her grandfather said that he was the jim dandy and that characterization in her mind went along with this idea that at 71 he would marry for a third
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time. she told me the family story of how he learned to read and write. he learned in the presence of the little master or the white boy. this might well have been dolley's son payne todd who would be the object of the instruction and jennings would be standing to the side but listening and absorbing and learning. in the book i presented perhaps the first instance of jennings taking advantage of his position. he was the good listener and a good network. there are so many places he was associated with that are extent in washington today. one of them is not his own house. his own house located where else street and 18 intercept. some of you may remember until
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very recently was border's books and i would go there and i would go into the cafe. i was sitting in my coffee thinking i could be at paul jennings's kitchen table right now and unfortunately they went out of business so i never had a chance to do a book talk there. extent buildings where jennings lives andor worked would be the winter building to the west of the white house. washington's first i rise. the 5 story building still used by government offices today where the pension office of the department of interior was first located and then move to the patent office building. you know it as the grant structure that houses two smithsonian museums. the dolley madison house where jennings live with his mistress
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until he became free in 1847, that also is there today. paul jennings would have been on the cellar level. after the burning of the white house, the madison white house never lived in the white house again. the temporary white house became the octagon. the octagon is another of the buildings still in washington. it was there that james madison signed the treaty again that ended the war of 1812 and jennings writes that on that occasion everyone in the household was thrilled to hear that news had finally arrived. jennings said he played the president's march on the violin. 7s were instructed to pour wine literally including for
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themselves and jennings rights that the french steward was drunk for two days. never he said was there such an exciting time in washington. and then there is the white house and two years from now will be the 200th anniversary of the rescue of the portrait of george washington which i would submit has allowed all americans to identify this event as the kind of highlight of be more of 1812 instead of shrinking in sadness that the white house was ever burned by an enemy. paul jennings does have a one of the kind story.
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he purchased his own freedom, secured his family's future, he uses his literacy to write free passes and free papers for other slaves, he contributed to the raising of funds for slaves in dire need for a purchase from their masters. it was in 1809 that james madison took the oath of office as fourth president promising to protect and defend the constitution that he helped found. it was 200 years later that we all watched the 44th president take that same oath. it took 200 years, a shamefully long time, but we did progress from the only allowable role for
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a black man in the white house to be a liveried footman like paul jennings to the first african-american president and his family making their home in that historic structure. [applause] >> president barack obama would be the first to acknowledge that is rapidly rising star was hitched to paul jennings and to untold number of other african americans whose stories may never be known but who like jennings overcame a barrage of obstacles to rise. it has been said there is nothing truly new in this world but the history that we have yet to learn. thank you so much.
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[applause] >> turning to the early part of your book. when doing your research define any conversations between madison and his predecessor jefferson? they were neighbors and in terms of the slaves, they talk about things you spoke about. you find forces where they conversed and shared their ideas? >> i don't know that i found any firsthand conversations between the two of them on this subject. i can tell you that they had very similar views about it. they understood that slavery was
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immoral. and abominable crime, jefferson called it. madison said that it was a moral, economical and social evil. jefferson acknowledged that if it ever came down to a war between slaves and slave owners there was no question on which side god would be. see an end t. how what do we do with them, the eelacks?
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once the concept of the colonization had come reto the floor and that would involve the freed blacks transported to after some other possibilities are transported to west africawa to. t madison said that this concept and gave him an opportunity to not be so disillusioned about ree future because he envisioned it as the green light to beginas with a gradual emancipation. however, he calls it the double operation and he felt the country should not embark on emancipation until it is firmly coupled in this double operation until they brochure of the second half and of course that was not to be. that was
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now there was much -- monticell. and not be earlier just 28 milel apart, and as madison's servant apart. madison's manservant every time he went to monticello all with the company him. he certainly got to know the various monticello slaves and their were monticello slaves that were part of jefferson's white house that prevent heart of madison's white house. one fellow in particular named john freeman was purchased by president madison from president jefferson at the transition to the administration and he was married for a member of monticello's well-known family. there was plenty of interaction between the two plantations. jennings wrote in his memoir that jefferson and madison were as intimate as any two brothers could be. >> let me ask a question about
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does the author, does he characterized present madison, does he write a character sketch of him? >> he does. you have to remember that there are issues of candor in the memoir like this. john boruk forceful was an amateur historian and he got to learn about the back story of his co-worker in the pension office and i can hear him approaching paul jennings and saying i understand you used to work for president madison. what was that like? i think you have to remember how that might, what jennings talks and does not talk about. that is my frustration with the memoir. i wanted to learn more about what jennings got and what he
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was all about. he does characterize james madison as one of the best and to whoever lived. he says as a slave owner he would never allow his overseers to with the slaves. and in the part of the whole point of my book is to talk about complex relationship between the two of them. the madisons and sinise said paul jennings was in abbott with freedom. absolutely. he was learning at the feet of the master and he took it in and realize as well as the next man that learning and liberty have a direct connection with one another and i don't think there's any doubt that madison would have approved of paul thinking that way. he understood individual rights of the gift of nature. with dolley it got to be even
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more complicated because dolley promised as i mentioned in her will to free paul jennings but in the end he doubted that she would follow through on that and he couldn't wait any longer until she might die anyway. she didn't follow through on her husband's will who wanted her not to free any of the slaves except for those who might misbehave. this is typical about slave owners. there is always that easily justified course of action that they can choose to take. dolley madison despite the fact that she sold paul jennings setting the price at $200 and acknowledged this was a low price because of his service. what impresses me is jennings had a great generosity of spirit because when he was working for
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western he would go to dolley madison. by this time jennings -- desired the necessities of life. he would come with a basket fulls of provisions and give her small sums of money from his own pocket. that impresses me. >> frederick douglass says it is the cruelest master who brings you very close -- the good masters someone who -- you are eating from his table and wearing his hand me down clothes and have a lot of liberty but that is the cruelest master because he brings you so close but at the same point you don't have your liberty. jennings eventually wanted his freedom but also hercules who is
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george washington's slave, he ran away. how deep was paul jennings's motivation to gain his freedom? >> let me say as someone who was responsible for interpretation at monticello and montreal your visitors will come and want the interpreter to assure them that jefferson, madison, they were good masters and i will not answer such a question directly and instead what i'd do is quote frederick douglass saying the feeding and clothing of me cannot atone for taking my liberty away. it wasn't so much the living conditions of slaves in the upper south at this time that was the most profound and bawling parts of being a slave but as you say was the lack of
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freedom, the inability to transfer the fruit of your own labors on to your children, and sometimes we hear about a hierarchy within a slave community. with the idea that house slaves were better off than those who had to work in the fields but i think that is a debatable subject. if europe fields laid you put in a grueling 14 hours a day but after work the night was your own. a house servant like paul jennings could be called upon any time to service those in the big house. of course for jennings the most galling part of it was when he had to go back to washington with dolley leaving his wife and
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children behind and after his wife died these are motherless children. i think that was his final motivating factor to say now, not later. yes, sir. >> one thing i noticed about your book is it seems to tie historical parks that don't appear to be related. the rescue of the great painting of george washington. it has occurred to me for a long time that by stating that in addition to the fact that it is a great work, it would have retarded what later became the arc of u.s./british reconciliation. that is not the purpose of your book but has that occurred to you? it has occurred to me for some time. >> they will indeed have enjoyed defiling the image of the father of our country. >> maybe but mostly because it
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becomes a grievance. individual grievances interfering with reconciliation with between countries. >> despite the fact that it was really jennings and some of his co-workers who followed through on the actual rescue that is why i would never say is fair to give dolley madison the credit because her patriotic impulse to make sure that didn't happen that led to the rescue of the portrait. if you go to see one of these portraits of george washington painted by gilbert stuart there is the one in the east room that is there today because of the action of jennings and others but also another one that is in the national portrait gallery. it is 95 inches high. you don't know until you look at it was an effort of work had to be to remove it from the wall. ..
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this event was part of the 2012 national book festival in washington, d.c.. for more and formation, visit the coverage of our recent visit to augusta continues on booktv. i am the director of the george mitchell department of special collections and archives. what i've chosen freedom they are some selections from our oliver otis how word collection, one of the largest collections we have in the department and it's the most heavily used. the reason that is so is that his career documents so many different periods of american history and who are interested
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in the civil war were interested in race relations all coming to look at these papers and the only thing that they really have in common is that they have resources in their research. he first and foremost is a boudin alumnus class a1850 born in maine, went on to the rank of general during the civil war then became the head of the freedom in europe he was in charge of indian war and west for a while and from tennessee and three of his life was engaged in those institutions that he had such a large part in forming and he was on the board of trustees for years and years. he served as president of both howard university at different times of his life.
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they had a distinguished images overtime. early on it started with the continent's and then some older ones including the interesting rendition of him that reduces him to assemble elements but provides a grand portrait sometimes. a photograph here of him with chief joseph who was the chief of the tribe in the northwest where he was involved in the indian war and the relocation of those tribe members to the reservation. a rather in pure realist he noticed that his right arm is called in to the coupon. he had it and yet he did during
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the civil war and assuring one of his sons and to of his grandson's all of whom followed him into the military service. this is very, very late in life for him, and then finally, a group shot that shows him sitting right there along with a other great men that form the board for college. the joshua chamberlain who also is a renowned service is also shaming the specter. chamberlain and the class of 52 interact in most while they were here and share the dorm but not a dorm room so we don't really know much in the early years about whether they were
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friendly. certainly leader in life they were including chief justice for the who's also a member of the board in late 19th century social life. this is a letter that he's writing to his son on christmas morning in 1861. at the time he's at the camp in california which is just outside of washington, d.c. and his son was three or four or maybe 5-years-old at that time, and it's a great letter showing a civil war officer trying to be a father. the term is not only in a
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patronizing way lots of pictures, lots of explanations about how things are coming and in that sense it also provides great documentation for camp life, so the scholars that are trying to figure out a social history, with the camp life was like and what everybody was doing when they were not shooting at each other, these letters to home our great resources in that regard. this one shows the intent. people don't really associate these two together but they happen all the time. and then we have on the back of the letter more can't scenery together with portraits of his family and putting to whom he is writing the letter and the next to that is a picture of the general himself, and then the other children in the family. and then who is this? of course his mom. this is in 1861, and then in
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1862 in june he gets shot and something penetrates his right elbow and he has to have his arm amputated, and so this is a set of letters and documents that document that event. one of them is a letter that is written to him from his brother at the time. i wish i could be with you. this is not very good news, blog blah, blah. but it gives an indication. this is within days of him being injured and already he's getting letters from home with concern. this is where the transcription of the telegraph that was sent to inform the family that he had
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been injured and wounded and within a day there is a letter from howard back home written on the sleeve of his left hand so something has happened here. he is well enough to want to write but writing a left-handed he doesn't really have any choice other than that. later he was awarded a medal of honor for service. about a year later we have another letter from him again so we can see he sort of figured out. this is a great putter for a couple of reasons. one of them is that he talks of his encampment outside of chattanooga at this point in anticipation of the mark due to march in georgia and he writes about how guys should be working
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really hard at school and doing well in school because all the kids around here in tennessee they don't know how to read and write and they have to write with an x mark said he shows an example of how and deliver it in tennessee would sign his name because he wasn't able to do so. and then there are examples of more drawings. with the cartographia looked like. this also has interest because he's talking about tennessee and his fundamentalist revolution lincoln university which is established for two reasons. one of them is because there is the need for education and tennessee and the other one is there is a need for the memorial to link in the south and so,
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howard puts those sentiments together in forming this university and then shows the president in the 1890's. this is an oddball piece because it is signed by jefferson davis whom hubbard theoretically would be shooting against in a few years' time. he is of course the secretary of war and this is his condition as the second lieutenant. after he graduated he went to west point and was commissioned officer after three years of being a student there. jefferson davis oddly enough was also an honor read degree recipient at boden. after the civil war, howard was appointed commissioner of the friedman bureau. here is a letter who is a black woman writing to howard while he is the president of howard university.
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she held those positions in the late 60's and early 70's, 1870's. he had been attending harvard university, she and a group of mothers and accommodation in the church in washington, d.c.. set about right after the civil war and determining how they could provide help particularly to blacks and a variety of disadvantaged in the d.c. area and initially establish what was a seminary and that very quickly martin to the university. so, howard university was founded. you put them on the reservation it would be okay but in terms of his treatment of blacks and his involvement he's also called the christian general because depending on the perspective he was either very powerful or very righteous. he did expect that his troops would comport themselves in the
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highest christian manner that there are also suggestions he was preaching and maybe not the easiest guy to live with and when you really want to do is smoking cigarettes and have a drink. the reich righteousness i think carries him without life and he makes no apologies for ret but he's also a singled out because of it and certainly on many of the biographies that have been published. ultimately i mentioned earlier that he was the superintendent of west point and others deal with the freedman's bureau. the first one actually articulated at west point. here is from frederick douglass in which he writes to how word in 1880 that he appreciates the sentiment and support for having blacks go to west point but later in the letter he sort of digresses into a very bitter set of paragraphs talking about
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christians aren't necessarily the best people in the world to be criticizing anybody else for how widely the treat their brothers. later in life he's writing addresses and as an example of that i just played out on that we have here for women in the great conflict. so, he is running and writing about what the role of the women was during the civil war and nursing the wounded providing those the would build morale. there are occasional references to people who had gone to the front lines when their husbands were injured and taking care of them there with the anecdote of
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the wife when the tickets were established on both sides of the upcoming conflict comes right down the middle and shoos away some people stuck in the middle. the joke of course is they can go shopping together. booktv troubled just outside to hear from colby college professor and local author lotus the tayler. she talks about her book the virgin warrior the life-and-death of joan of arc. >> i wasn't very interested in the beginning at all. she was too much of an anomaly that went off to fight in the 100 year war and then i saw some
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films in 1999 some bad ones and so good ones that made me think she could be more interesting than i thought. so i realize looking in the library that were more sources about joan of arc than almost any figure in putting kings and queens. it's a typical portrayal of her is someone who is just a force of god or a force of the st and when i started reading the documents, because we ought not only have her own voice in the trial but we of the villagers that she fought with that testify to 25 years after her death about her and these were not only for us is that were completely silent in the historical average, and talked about her and for example the villagers in particular would say things like she didn't want to dance with us. we made fun of her lot. and that struck me as odd because she got the tax exemption after all, and so my students were able to bring to that the idea that maybe she was
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bullied as a girl and we do know from the sources that at the age of 16 when she left home for the first time her household had become very repressive. her brothers were talking about the fact that she was going off and talking to people in other towns, and her father threatened to drown her if she went off to war. so they tried to marry her off and she actually went on her own and fought a marriage contract and she won. she wasn't the fun loving girl. she would go on little pilgrimages to places and again was a little bit odd according to their local people. she went on to separate missions she will to see the captain to try to get him to send her to the home. there was the duke and at that
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point they had a very mixed kind of interview one of the things she didn't want to give we have to feel the places that we study we are going to all the places that she went, studying them, and trying to get a sense of the kind of journey that she made. she went 11 days through the territory controlled just to get to the future, and so the fact that she was willing to do that to a 17-year-old girl is astonishing to me. she was given the seal of approval after the many examinations of the theological and gynecological even to make sure that she was pure and a good catholic. she was finally fitted with armor which by the way i tried on versions of it myself and it's astonishing that a 17-year-old girl could wear armor and sit on a horse and
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have a standard and so forth. i think that's what they wanted her to do. she would fight that way because they had only been for about six months that have that time. so when they finally got her ready to go, she looked the part and she already had been very outspoken and even sassy in her responses to them, so they finally center. so it was about february of 1429 and they decided to outfit her for the war. april 29th. she had been chomping at the bit. people that saw her said she looked like a woman in labor waiting to have a baby. she wanted to get to the war and that is one of the prominent characteristics. she loved were fair. she is a woman who is full of action, full of self confidence, and really wants to do what all of the king's men had not been
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able to do before this and that is some chivalrous, they were giving gifts to the english and so forth. jonah wanted to be out with the english and i think she had a version that was very far ahead of its kind in that she imagined that it wasn't just the factions fighting among themselves, but there was actually one in france so what doesn't happen during her lifetime, but she starts creating that idea. and so she thought that it had lifted in the week after she arrived and then started in the kings island because they were falling and they won several more victories with joe and actually insisting on being a warrior and a leader making major decisions that could have gotten her in trouble it was a frontier town and her home and it's got about 160 inhabitants. it was ont


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